The most recently published climate change predictions are the most profoundly bleak yet. Never has there been more need and pressure on us all to urgently reduce emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs) and doing so is at the top of all political and policy agendas. Internal drainage boards (IDBs) have responded by giving ADA a clear and urgent steer to assist them in developing their own emission reduction strategies in order to contribute towards the global effort. The first step is to help IDBs to define their current carbon emissions.
The Carbon Accounting Guide for IDBs published recently by ADA, presents the key points of carbon accounting in a relevant and succinct way to enable IDBs to take that first step into carbon accounting and reporting, quickly and confidently. To add rapidity to the process, it also provides guidance for the completion of a recommended carbon calculator, accompanied by worked examples and a carbon emissions reporting template. The results will help IDBs to identify their key emissions sources and highlight the areas which should be targeted by emission reduction strategies. Once an IDB is confidently accounting for and reporting their carbon emissions, further guidance to be published by ADA will help IDBs to develop such strategies.
So what are the benefits of having a better understanding of current carbon emissions? How does that knowledge transfer into actual emission reductions? Firstly, the technology is still trying to catch up with the ambitions of many organisations and sectors, including the water level and flood risk management sector. Improved understanding and quantification of significant CO2 emission sources within the sector will help to incentivise and accelerate the development of alternative CO2 efficient technologies and solutions for the sector.
There are other wider benefits an IDB can draw from defining their carbon emissions too, including:
IDBs are not at present one of the organisations mandated to report on their preparedness for climate change risks, such as the Environment Agency, under the Adaption Reporting Power of the Climate Change Act 2008. However, recently the Climate Change Committee have made recommendations to Parliament to make reporting mandatory for more organisations, particularly infrastructure sectors.
Many non-mandated organisations already voluntarily submit reports to the Government to better inform their Climate Change Risk Assessment and National Adaption Programme and ADA has volunteered to become the reporting authority on the behalf of IDBs for the next round of reporting. A better understanding of current IDB emissions will be vital to inform this. The emissions reporting template for IDBs published today as part of the Guide, has been designed with this in mind and aims to present IDB emissions data in line with the requirements set out in the Government’s Environmental Reporting Guidelines.
At present, ADA would be reporting voluntarily on behalf of IDBs but it is prudent for IDBs to familiarise themselves with carbon accounting as soon as possible in anticipation of a possible statutory duty to provide such data.
The report template can also be used to publish the IDB’s carbon emission results through other channels, such as their own website. Indeed, IDBs are encouraged to publish their carbon audits for transparency, to highlight their understanding and appreciation of the need to reduce GHG emissions and to bring attention to the contribution they make to the global effort.
This first step is the most important one, as only with a more complete understanding of all sources and volumes of CO2 emissions can effective strategies be developed to reduce them. This is the case on an IDB scale, sector, national and international scale and the Carbon Accounting Guide will help IDBs to contribute towards that picture at every level.
The Carbon Accounting Guide for IDBs, worked examples of carbon calculations and the GHG emissions reporting template can be downloaded from the ADA website: www.ada.org.uk/knowledge/climate